Newly-elected president Norman George said he was pleased to announce that after 54 years, they have now founded and registered an association for past MPs, speakers and clerks of the Cook Islands Parliament.
From inception to formation it took 10 months, so nothing was rushed, George said.
A meeting attended by 16 former MPs and one clerk laid the foundation for what is expected to last while the parliamentary system functions, he said.
“Membership is voluntary provided members pay their annual subscription of $50 per year. You cannot claim membership by having served as an MP. You need to be committed. All memberships are of equal ranks. There is room to include honorary membership from former MPs from New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom and Pacific Forum countries. Non-former MPs will be considered if they wish to join,” George said.
The objects of the association include uniting all former MPs as one entity – no CIP, no Demos or One Cook Islands.
“Good relations and shared values with New Zealand is foremost. The Association will monitor the conduct of members of parliament now serving to ensure they serve their electorate and our country with diligence, and honour without corruption,” George said.
“The interests of the people of the Cook Islands is foremost in the agenda of the association. The interest and welfare of its members are also high on the agenda, seeing to their health and wellbeing.”
George said how the government treats former MPs at state functions will be monitored closely.
“There has been some quite disappointing treatment of former MPs at the last opening of Parliament. Any government who disregards appropriate protocols for former MPs will result in the rejection of official invites in the future.”
George also said a Roll of Honour will be created for those who served their country in Parliament.
A commitment to preserve indigenous Maori rights, the “Tangata Tumu Enua” is covered in the Constitution of the association, he added.
“Some of the highlights are to preserve certain positions for the ‘Tangata Tumu Enua’ only, to include the Queen’s Representative, prime minister, House of Ariki and the Koutu Nui are the best examples.”
George also said the association by gentle persuasion will stand for preventing our population from being swamped and voted out of existence by expatriates.
A ratio of 25 per cent expatriate population to local Tangata Tumu Enua is the base figure of the association’s stance, he said.
“It also stands for embracing, protecting and accepting our expatriate family as one, equal and with all constitutional rights available.
“These provisions are available in paragraph 7 of the Constitution called ‘The Seventh Estate’. This Constitution plots the way for preserving the Cook Islands for the next 500 years. It is expected to work alongside the House of Ariki, Koutu Nui and the Religious Advisory Council, to be guardians of our paradise nation.
The office bearers are Patrons, the Queen’s Representative, the prime minister and the minister responsible for parliament.”
The registered office of the association is the Clerk of Parliament’s office. There are a total of 48 members as of May 1, 2019.
Members can pay their membership subscriptions of $50 at the clerk of Parliament’s Office.
Any member of the public or members wanting a copy of our constitution can obtain a copy from the clerk of Parliament for a $5 fee.
“In God we trust. One nation, one people. God bless the Cook Islands.” - Release
President Norman George, Vice Presidents Sir Fred Goodwin, Tiki Matapo. Secretary is Tupou Faireka and Assistant Secretary is Rei Jack.
Treasurer is Willie John with Kaota Tuariki as his assistant.
The Executive Committee consists of members Cassey Eggelton, Tapi Taio, James Beer, Eugene Tatuava, Joe Caffery, Peri Vaevaepare, Vai Peua, George Ellis, Moana Ioana, and Wilkie Rasmussen.